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Working to Improve Public School Accessibility in NYC

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The NYC Department of Education recently announced that they will be surveying every high school to determine which buildings need accessibility improvements.  One of the biggest issues parents and students have is that “accessible” should mean more than just having someone in a wheelchair be able to enter the building. There are several things that are commonly overlooked, like whether or not are there quality accessible restrooms, water fountains and classrooms. Many of their public schools are over a hundred years old and do not have elevators or a lift system on their stairs.

Moving in the Right Direction

Often times parents have the ability to choose which school they would like their child to attend, especially if they have any physical limitations. However, with hundreds of public schools in Manhattan alone, starting the process can be extremely overwhelming. To help with transforming the schools and with providing more information online, the NYC DOE recently announced a new project that will compile a 60 criteria database on accessibility information from all of the schools. To help communicate this information to the public, they hope to make this accessibility information and any new ADA improvements on the DOE’s NYC School Finder website. There is also a mobile app called “School Central NYC” that allows users to view detailed information on over 1,500 schools.

Fully Accessible, Partially Accessible and Inaccessible…

The NYC Department of Education accessibility page currently claims they have three tiers of schools:  fully accessible, partially accessible and inaccessible. They do not however provide a list of which schools fall into these categories. In 2015, the NY Daily News posted an article claiming that 83% of the NYC schools are not fully accessible. Hopefully their future projects and renewed efforts on improving accessibility will help bring that number down.

With a new focus on improved school accessibility coming from the nation’s largest city, hopefully towns all across America decide to follow in their footsteps!